Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill - First reading

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

STUART SMITH : I think we could all be forgiven for thinking that this is a very recent problem that has just arisen, given some of the speeches that have gone before.

But the first Housing New Zealand house was built in 1937, not that far from here in Miramar, and it took decades after that before the first Housing New Zealand houses were insulated.

So this is not a new issue that has arisen. Those houses were cold and likely damp from 1937 on, and they were until recently, when all the houses in Housing New Zealand’s stock that could be were insulated.

We are well on track to insulate 26 times more houses than Labour did in its 9 years, and I think that is a phenomenal achievement.

It is really putting our money and our actions where our mouth is, actually, to do a good job for those people in that disadvantaged position.

There has been quite a bit of talk about something like a warrant of fitness for housing stock, but that would add $100 million a year just to do the inspections, or $225 per home. That amount of money is far better going into insulation and into smoke alarms, which will make a real difference to those people.

The significant issues such as excessive dampness, faulty wiring, and those sorts of things are, in fact, covered under current legislation, so what is needed is not more rules; it is actually enforcement, and that is coming in under this bill, where we are strengthening the legal provisions to allow for that very enforcement that is needed.

So I think this is a fantastic bill. It actually comes from the party that looks after the people at the bottom of the heap and makes their lives better, and that is backed up by lots of legislation put forward by this party. I commend this bill to the House.